The (appropriately) laconic George Mitchell has come and gone, and the Israeli press, particularly radio, is full of knowing talk about an impending clash between Bibi Netanyahu, almost certain to be the next prime minister, and the Obama administration, mainly over settlements. There is something surreal about this: Netanyahu's lead in the polls has not really eroded, and the rightist, pro-settler coalition he will rely on to anchor his personal power in any unity government is gaining. The government is going ahead with plans to join Maale Adumim to Mount Scopus. It is as if the commentators were talking about a clash between Israel and the American Reform movement over conversion.
Israelis have lived so long under American protection they have confused America's power for their own, and have utterly underestimated the sober, changing attitude toward Israel since the Gaza attack--around the world, but also in America. More about this presently. For now, a shorter, more succinct and shareble version of my double post on what Obama should be doing has been published by London's Prospect magazine. It can be read here.